The Senate committee tasked with looking into the impacts and management of feral horses in the Australian Alps has recommended aerial shooting be used to tackle the growing number of the pests.
The Environment and Communications References Committee released its report, Impacts and management of feral horses in the Australian Alps, last week which included 14 recommendations.
Among them was the recommendation to allow aerial shooting.
"The committee recommends that the NSW Government update the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow the use of aerial shooting as one of the available feral horse control methods if deemed appropriate under strict safety, scientific and humane practices," the report said.
The Senate referred the impacts and management of feral horses in the Australian Alps for inquiry on February 9 with the report handed down on Friday, October 13.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was the chair of the committee which also recommended the federal government increase its funding and a threat abatement plan should be developed.
The report said there was "an estimated 25,000 feral horses impacting the broader Australian Alps region" that impact on the environment and animals.
"The Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves are an incredibly fragile, precious ecosystem supporting critically endangered and vulnerable native plants and animals," the report said.
"Many of these species are not found anywhere on the planet other than the Australian Alps, and some are at high risk of imminent extinction.
"Feral horses directly impact 12 animal species that occur in the Australian Alps, and which are listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) as being threatened with extinction.
"It has been made clear that if feral horse populations are not urgently managed, there is a real risk of losing this unique landscape and the native species that call it home."
Made by the Environment and Communications References Committee
The Committee recommends that the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, in collaboration with its state and territory counterparts, undertake an impact and population assessment of feral horses at the national level.
The Committee recommends the Minister for Environment and Water list habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral horses as a Key Threatening Process under the Environment Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999.
The Committee recommends that, after the Key Threatening Process is in place, the Minister for the Environment issue a Threat Abatement Plan as soon as is practicable, in order to reduce the threat of feral horses in the Australian Alps.
The Committee recommends that in partnership with the states and territory, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority undertake work to measure, monitor and record the quality of Basin water resources in and flowing from the Australian Alps, with particular reference to the impact of feral horses.
The Committee recommends that in partnership with the states and territory, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority undertake an immediate assessment of the condition of the catchment of the Hume Reservoir, with particular reference to the impact of feral horses.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government take a lead role to achieve cooperation between state and territory governments in the formulation of management plans for National Heritage listed places, including in the Australian Alps National Heritage place. The Australian Government should establish agreed mechanisms to resolve disputes between jurisdictions to ensure that National Heritage values are being protected.
The Committee recommends that the EPBC Regulations, which set out the management principles for National Heritage listed places, be amended to include reference to international obligations.
The Committee recommends that the National Heritage provisions of the EPBC Act be amended to include that regard must be given towards Target 6 as adopted in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government commission urgent monitoring to assess the current status of EPBC Act-listed species, ecological communities and migratory species in the Australian Alps.
Further, the Australian Government should work with the NSW, Victorian and ACT governments to urgently implement recovery plans to better protect critically endangered species such as the Stocky Galaxias and Southern Corroboree Frog.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government increase funding to the states and territory, who are the primary land managers of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves, to enable them to ensure National Heritage values are upheld and threatened species are protected from extinction.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government expand its partnership with FeralScan to develop a platform for the monitoring and logging of feral horses.
The Committee recommends that the NSW Government update the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow the use of aerial shooting as one of the available feral horse control methods if deemed appropriate under strict safety, scientific and humane practices.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Alps Liaison Committee membership include Indigenous representation, to ensure that Indigenous knowledge and culture is properly considered at each stage of its processes.
The Committee recommends that the NSW, Victoria and ACT Governments urgently review the safety of staff working in and around national parks, and work with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that staff are properly protected in their workplaces.
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